Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just when I thought that Massachusetts health care environment was complicated, along comes this story from ConvergenceRI.  Richard Asinof is a tireless reporter who documents the health care comings and goings in the state.  We could use someone of his energy and depth in Massachusetts, someone who connects current events with what has happened in the past--with a healthy dose of similes and an appreciation for irony.

Look at these excerpts, for example:

Like new spring growth in the briar patch, thorny consequences of Prime Healthcare’s takeover of Landmark Medical Center have begun to emerge, less than four months after the deal was finalized that allowed the California-based, for-profit hospital system to purchase the financially troubled nonprofit community hospital.

UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company and UnitedHealthcare of New England have asked the R.I. Department of Health to remove Landmark from its network of hospitals, along with 52 physicians, 32 of which are primary care providers, who have “admitting privileges exclusively” at the hospital. 

The only commercial insurer with an ongoing participating agreement with Landmark is Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island – a legal arrangement that was part of the final purchase deal.   

There is a certain amount of irony in the current situation, given the events of two years ago, when in the summer of 2012, it was Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island that had requested to remove Landmark from its network of hospitals during its contract negotiations with Steward and Landmark, leading to an aggressive advertising campaign attacking Blue Cross by Steward and Landmark and a lawsuit against Blue Cross by the special master that was later withdrawn.

Failed mediation efforts with Blue Cross involving Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin [and leaked confidential letters between Kilmartin and Steward Health Care CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre] led in part to the breakdown of the proposed purchase of Landmark by Steward, a for-profit hospital system based in Boston and owned by a private equity firm, Cerberus, in New York City.


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